Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberry Daze

Blueberry Season!

The first summer I lived on the west coast I was invited to go blueberry picking. There's nothing like hiking the mountains of Maine, where I'd previously done some picking, eating the wild blueberries and savoring their sweet and tart flavor. You're already watching the ground in order not to trip and sprawl flat out on the hard rock surface so keeping an eye out for the little indigo berries is really just an added bonus to the whole experience. With that in mind I eagerly said yes to the blueberry expedition.

We pulled up to a nice meadow right in the city and everyone climbed out with multiple gallon buckets - extremely optimistic about how many blueberries we were going to pick and bring home with us!

We headed out into the meadow, my head firmly down trying to find the blueberries hidden in the tall meadow grass. Picking was definitely going to be harder than on the rock faces of the Maine mountains!  We walked for 10 minutes without a blueberry in sight and no one seemed phased or concerned even though they had yet to put one tiny, minuscule berry in their buckets.

Suddenly everyone stopped with exclamations of "We're here!", "Oh, they look great!", "Let's get picking!". I frantically scoured the ground wondering how they were peering through the grass to find these elusive berries! Finally I looked up in confusion hoping to discover their secret... But, these strange people weren't looking down at the ground. They were elbow deep in bushes! And when I looked closer I realized that these bushes WERE where the blueberries were growing! And the blueberries themselves...They were obviously on steroids. Overgrown grapes were dragging the branches down until they were practically resting on the ground!

No wonder I was confused! It was an entirely new blueberry world! That confusion quickly moved to elation as I grabbed handfuls of berries off the the bush in one sweep and the bottom of my gallon bucket disappeared in minutes! Talk about almost instant gratification!

We now buy our berries at the farmers market, maybe in a few years we'll head back out to pick our own. Either way, it's a special summer treat that The Princess inhales leaving a few berries for to freeze as a winter staple. We really should invest in a freezer for just the blueberry stockpile.

I wouldn't turn down a hike up a Maine mountain or reject a surprise package in the mail of those little Maine berries though. They're still to die for!

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